Posts Tagged With: United States Coast Guard Academy

Coast Guard Academy’s 131st Graduation Speaker Was Janet Napolitano, Secretart of Homeland Security

English: United States Coast Guard Academy seal

English: United States Coast Guard Academy seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coast Guard Academy’s 131st Graduation Speaker is Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano

by London Richter on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 3:16pm ·

HC HC Coast Guard Commencement02 NEW LONDON 05/16/12 Derek Balke (center) grips his cadet shoulder boards in his hands as he and fellow newly commissioned ensigns Anthony Bareno, (left) Emily Balingit Clark, (second from right) and Trevor Auth (right) take theirs off at the end of commencement ceremonies at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy‘s 131st commencement exercises at the New London campus.

May 16, 2012

New London, Connecticut

U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Good afternoon! Thank you, Admiral Papp, for the introduction, and for inviting me to speak today at your graduation, or as I’ve heard, roughly your 12th “culmination” since 2008.

By the way, I was challenged to see whether I could fit the names of all 16 of the Coast Guard’s 210’ cutters in this speech. Listen close: I have confidence you can count them all.

It’s good to be back at the Coast Guard Academy. I thank your Superintendent, Admiral Stosz, and all the members of the faculty who have helped get you to this point.

On behalf of your Commander in Chief, President Obama, (who will speak at the Air Force Academy on 22 May) congratulations to each of you. And thanks to all who have supported you: your families, your friends, and your (undoubtedly relieved) parents. Please join me in giving all those who have helped you a round of applause.

As the Service Secretary of the Coast Guard, it is my honor to address you as you embark on a career of service to your nation.

After four years of studying with diligence, you enter active duty with the confidence instilled by the finest multi-mission maritime military education in the world.

You have learned about both teamwork and self-reliance, and you have remained resolute in the face of many obstacles. You are well on your way to becoming steadfast leaders.

And that’s critical, because once you leave here, you will be given a lot of responsibility very quickly. I was on the Cutter Kittiwake just a couple weeks ago, and the majority of her crew, including the Commanding Officer, were 25 years old or younger.

Leadership in Uncertain Times

The qualities you have developed over the last four years, that strength of character, are exactly what our nation needs as your careers get underway during uncertain times.

Cadets, we live in a world of evolving threats and unconventional enemies; a world where the battlefield often has no boundaries or uniforms.

You will don many hats as you leave this Academy, because it means a lot to be a member of the Coast Guard – you are rescuers, protectors, first responders, law enforcers, teachers, public servants.

You graduate in a 21st Century anchored in neither the Cold War nor the conventional rules of warfare. In this ever-changing world, the only certainty is that you will be called on to carry out many missions around the globe:

You will help people who are in danger at sea. Last year, the Coast Guard rescued 3,804 men and women.

You will enforce our laws, ensuring that drugs and contraband stay away from our shores, and that our waters are protected from pollution and overfishing. Last year, the Coast Guard accounted for approximately 40% of all U.S., allied nation and partner nation interdictions in the drug transit zone.

You will stop human traffickers and others who are trying to come to our shores illegally, while saving those who have become stranded in crafts not worthy of the sea. Last year, the Coast Guard saved the lives of 2,474 refugees who otherwise would have drowned in their attempt to reach our country’s shores.

You will keep vital shipping lanes half a world away open to commerce – training and patrolling with allies to keep pirates at bay. Last year, the Coast Guard interrupted or defeated four pirate attacks.

You will help ensure the safety of America’s ports, as well as foreign ports that serve as last points of departure to the United States. The Coast Guard operates as the Captains of the Port in 42 locations around our nation.

You will support the defense of our nation during war. Currently, the Coast Guard has men and women in locations like Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

And you know that no matter how routine the mission may seem, you must remain vigilant on unforgiving seas. Those in the Coast Guard who gave their lives in the last year bear silent, but eternal witness to the risks of your chosen profession.

But while we know you would give your life – “dearly to an enemy, but freely to rescue those in peril,” as your Creed says, we as your leaders are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that you remain safe and that you have the tools and equipment necessary to succeed in your jobs.

That’s why we invest in you, providing one of the finest educations in the world here at this Academy. And that is why we are investing in new cutters, and helicopters, and other resources to meet your needs.

Our continued investment means that even as the world around us evolves, the Coast Guard will remain a durable and versatile multi-mission force, a force that never rests.

Preparing Future Coast Guard Leaders

But above and beyond equipment and technology, the Coast Guard’s work will continue to require people with a range of talents possibly unmatched anywhere else in public service.

And I have to say, after reviewing the research on your class, I am impressed. You have already distinguished yourselves in so many ways.

Your Distinguished Graduate, Katie Schumacher finished with a 3.97 GPA, despite the major time commitment of serving as regimental Executive Officer.

Your Honor Graduate Justin Daniel finished with the highest GPA at 3.99.

Members of your class including Eric Doherty and Garrick Gillan helped designed and build the “SailBot” autonomous sailboat. Jacob Conrad, Nick Powell, Tom Kane, and Brian Gracey designed and built a “Mobile Biodiesel Batch reactor” that can pull up to a McDonald’s, take the fryer oil, and produce diesel fuel on the spot.

As an attorney myself, I was particularly proud to hear that David Rehfuss’ team won a worldwide “Competition on the Law of Armed Conflict for Military Academies,” beating Army, Navy, and Air Force! I hear we also beat Army in Action Pistol.

And your class has excelled athletically as well:

The softball team won three games in one day earlier this month to come from behind, win the conference, and make it to the national tournament.

And Hayley Feindel overcame a lot to become, as the newspaper said, ‘the most accomplished athlete in the venerable history of the Academy.’ Talk about dependable – she was conference Pitcher of the Year – for the third time – she’s a two time All-American, AND she’s the all-time Division III leader in wins and strikeouts.

And it’s only fitting that you’re good at water sports, with women’s Crew ranked 5th in the country, under leaders like All-American Sarah Jane Otey. If you need any help at the upcoming crew championships, I want you to know I’ve been named an Honorary Coast Guard Coxswain by Coast Guard Station Washington, where I had the chance to show off my small boat driving skills last year.

And Trevor Siperek, a two-time All-Conference Cross Country runner, is ranked near the top of the country at steeplechase, and is also competing in the national finals later this month.

The list I have given is only illustrative, not exhaustive. In fact, your class has many other impressive achievements. No parade field rejects here!

After your Academy education, I am confident all of you will be well prepared to excel at whatever comes next, ready to join a long line of leaders in an organization with a rich history.

In short, I believe your extraordinary achievements and valiant service merit special consideration. Therefore, and using the powers vested in me, I hereby absolve all cadets of the restrictions associated with minor conduct offenses!

(But I cannot, I will not, and I shall not Pardon cadet Webster Smith, Class of 2006)

But as much as you have already accomplished, this is also just the beginning.

One DHS and USCG Role

Remember, the Coast Guard does not carry out its missions alone – you are part of something larger – the homeland security family. More and more, we are working together as one DHS to protect against terrorism, secure our borders, and respond to disasters of all types.

Our components support each other by sharing information, leveraging resources, and conducting joint operations. And while complementary missions bring us together, it is the venturous spirit shared by all who willingly put service over self that bonds us as One DHS.

Embodying Core Values

That spirit shows in the way you will face the overarching challenge of the Coast Guard, and of DHS as a whole: the challenge of leading in an uncertain world.

You are the first class to be born after the end of the Cold War, and to grow up in the Internet age.

You have faced uncertainty and change throughout your lives. And the world around you will continue to change, often in unpredictable ways. You must think about how you will confront these challenges as proud Coast Guard Officers, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States.

My advice is to always remember that you are decisive leaders of character, guided by the three Core Values of honor, respect and devotion to duty – three values that you’ve already made your own.

You’ve lived “honor” through your decision to serve, and the integrity you’ve upheld through your time as cadets. As honorable leaders of character, I encourage you to look to other leaders and learn about how they approached challenges. Understanding their successes – and mistakes – can help guide you through difficult times.

There is no clearer example of an honorable leader of character than George Washington. As much as we know about our first President, each generation finds that it has more to learn.

Today, we have a picture of a complex figure who could have assumed near absolute power after the American Revolution, but who resisted that temptation, voluntarily serving only two terms as president.

It is difficult to overstate how rare it is for anyone in history to refuse absolute power, or how much this selflessness shaped our nation. It is the very definition of honor.

And yet this deeply honorable man also had his flaws and struggles, as his biographers have noted. So let the actions of leaders inspire you, but let them also teach you that no one is perfect, and that our success comes despite our imperfections.

Now, we come to the core value of “respect,” which, in the Coast Guard, is all about treating the people around us with “fairness, dignity, and compassion.” Indeed, you’ve demonstrated respect in many ways:

Your compassion has shown through in your commemoration of the life of classmate Kenny Link, and the love and support you’ve shown his family since he passed on;

By building a children’s home for a small community in Honduras, you have helped those who have next to nothing gain a measure of dignity.

Raising funds to fight leukemia and lymphoma is another example of your compassion; and accruing the most community service hours of any class in the past two years shows your dedication to building a fairer world.

You have lived respect, and I encourage you to continue to live this value. Show it in how you deal with both your colleagues and your superior officers. Show it, as well, in how you deal with those under your command. After all, it is difficult to inspire a crew if they sense you do not respect them.

The third core value is devotion to duty. You have embodied this value by volunteering to serve your nation, persevering through every obstacle of the last four years, and by remaining alert, even on a leisure cruise, noticing and rescuing stranded young boaters off Key West. And you will live it in a thousand other acts, large and small, over the course of your careers.

For devotion to duty, I encourage you to follow the example David Henry Jarvis, first in the cadet class of 1883, and namesake of the Jarvis Inspirational Leadership Award.

As a First Lieutenant, he led his men, dogs and 400 reindeer in one of the greatest displays of devotion to duty in our history – the Overland Expedition. And while I know the graduates know the story, I’ll tell it briefly for everyone else.

In November 1897, a fleet of eight whaling ships with some 300 people aboard had become stranded off the northernmost tip of the United States – Point Barrow, Alaska, high in the Arctic – and courageous rescuers were needed to relieve them.

And so America turned to her Revenue Cutter Service, now known as the Coast Guard.

On the orders of President McKinley himself, (Captain “Hell roaring Mike Healy”) and the Revenue Cutter Bear headed north, into the frigid Arctic Winter, landing Lieutenant Jarvis and just two other men near Cape Vancouver.

Dauntless in the face of ice, snow, mountains and weather as cold as 60 degrees below zero, they traveled 1,500 miles at breakneck speed across the Alaskan wilds.

Halfway through, with the help of Native Alaskans, they gathered hundreds of reindeer – self-propelled food – and drove them the rest of the way to Point Barrow.

The whalers were saved, the nation was grateful, and the legacy of devotion to duty the Coast Guard would inherit was born.

That legacy lives on, as we were reminded this year. When the harsh winter placed Nome, Alaska, in peril, America turned again to the Coast Guard. With its heating oil supplies close to running out, the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy came to the rescue, clearing the path for an oil tanker, staying close, bringing her along, leading her forward until the cargo was safely delivered.

Conclusion

You can trace an unbroken line of devotion to duty from the valiant feat of First Lieutenant Jarvis’s team to the men and women of the Healy.

And I am confident you will extend that line forward for decades to come in your own careers, in every way imaginable.

Because for all its history, the Arctic is still a young frontier that you can explore. For all our success against terrorists, our adversaries will adapt, and you will too.

For all we know about ocean science, there is still so much more to learn. And for all the advances in maritime safety, we still know that no ship is unsinkable, and there will always be tragedies to respond to and lives to be saved.

You are not only heirs to a great tradition in each of these areas, you enter a force that is vibrant and vigorous today. And you represent its future – a future that is undoubtedly and incredibly bright – a future where you will conquer challenges yet undreamed of.

You are ready. You are prepared. Go forward to meet those challenges. Semper Paratus!

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Lawyers Fight Among Themselves Before They Fight The Opposition

Seattle-based John Henry Browne is the civilian attorney representing Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of murdering 17 Afghan villagers. Attorney Browne wants to replace the military lawyer assigned to the case. They are having serious disagreements over how to handle the defense.

“You are fired, sorry, but we have much more experience than you,” Attorney Browne, said to military lawyer Major Thomas Hurley. Major is an experienced military lawyer. He has handled more than 60 military courts-martial; three involved homicide charges; however, none were capital cases.

The Army assigns defense counsel such as Hurley to soldiers facing court martial but defendants also have the right to hire additional civilian counsel. The military assigned counsel is called the Detailed Military counsel (DMC). The hired civilian counsel is called the Individual Military counsel (IMC).

“Major Hurley is not a team player and has no experience in murder cases, we do,” Attorney Browne has said. “We have gotten 17 not guilty verdicts in murder cases and have gotten life verdicts in all our death penalty cases.”

Browne unleashed a unilateral public attack on the way U.S. prosecutors are handling the investigation into the shooting and accused U.S. authorities of blocking access to potential witnesses. There is also disagreement over the decision to put Bales’ wife on the television talk show circuit.

Major Hurley believes making public statement on television before the trial “limit our options at trial or expose important witnesses to effective cross-examination that they would otherwise not have to face”.

I faced similar situations when I was a retired officer Coast Guard Law Specialist representing Coast Guard members in Coast Guard Base  New York in courts-martial. However, I never had to assert my authority as lead counsel, Individual Military Counsel (IMC). The Coast Guard always detailed the most junior and inexperienced military counsel to the members that I represented. They were only qualified to carry my brief case and take notes, and they knew it. They were content to observe and listen and sometimes offer a helpful comment. I had just retired, I knew the Uniform  Code of Military Justice; I knew the accused; and I knew the judges and all of the members of the Prosecution team; so, I was better qualified to represent the accused. And the military counsels knew this, so , they never challenged my decisions in conducting the defense of the accused.

In the case of the Coast Guard Academy court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith there was similar tension and disagreement between CDR Merle Smith, (IMC) and LT Stuart Kirkby, (DMC). LT Kirkby was not even a Coast Guard Law Specialist. He was a Navy Judge Advocate General from the Naval Submarine Base at Groton, CT..

There was serious tension between CDR Smith and LT Kirkby. The tension and friction became so acute that it required several emergency sessions with the parents of Cadet Webster Smith to settle the issues. (THIS SUBJECT WILL BE TREATED IN DETAIL IN MY NEXT BOOK, THE SEQUEL TO CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady)

There were disagreements about who to put on the witness list, who to call as a witness, who wouldl make the Opening Statement, who wouldl make the Closing Argument, who would argue which motion, which motions to bring, who wouldl examine which witnesses, who would make objections to statement and questions by the Prosecution, whether to give interviews to the news media, which questions to ask which witness; and , the biggest issue of all, whether to put the Accused, Webster Smith, on the witness stand. That is always a crucial decision.  In the Webster Smith Case, it may have been the one issue decided the final verdict in the case.

http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK

 

 

This review is from: CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady (Kindle Edition)

CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and a Lady: A Review.

 

I read this book. Judge London Steverson, the author, a 1968 Coast Guard Academy graduate, and retiree, did an outstanding job of parsing the facts of what is arguably a judicial tragedy.

 

According to the book, leaders at the Coast Guard Academy failed to follow the recommendation of the investigating officer, which was not to prosecute the accused of sexual assault, among other allegations, because evidence of the alleged crimes seemed insufficient; failed to follow procedures in responding to the defendant’s Article 138 claim and failed to allow the defendant the customary grace period before reporting for confinement. There are a few other apparent missteps–like failing to instruct the jury that the defense does not have a burden of proof in criminal cases–that are capably documented in the book. Rather, according to the author, the Coast Guard Academy leadership chose to prosecute on the recommendation of a staff attorney in spite of the recommendation of the investigating officer the leadership appointed.

 

As for the defendant, some of his alleged conduct could, conceivably, call into question his judgment and discretion. To that end, he seemed to overlook a common, conspiratorial axiom: “There is no honor among thieves.” As it relates to discretion, at his age he may not have heard the axiom, “Loose lips sink ships.” The defendant was popular and athletic according to the book. These are traits that some others usually find attractive. Judge Steverson details how these traits attracted several cadets to the defendant. Consequently, one of the attractees had a mishap that directly involved the defendant and the two entered into a secret pact not to reveal the mishap because it could have an impact on both of their lives as cadets. Well, the defendant’s second error seemed one of indiscretion because this particular attractee subsequently got wind of the tale involving the shared secret and turned her apparent affection into unabated vengeance. Not only did she turn to vengeance towards the once popular, now vilified athlete, but another five or six attractees also seemed to act in concert, according to the text. According to the author’s account. All it took to convict the defendant was the allegations of sexual assault among other allegations.

 

The gist of the book is the author’s plea to the Coast Guard to live up to the Constitution that its members, including the Court Martial’s convening authority and the defendant, swore to uphold and protect. He pleads with Coast Guard Academy leadership not to substitute their personal feelings of how they think the world should operate for justice. The author asks them to remain faithful to this nation’s long-standing creed of “Equal protection under the law.” Finally, the author pleads with the Coast Guard Academy leadership to adhere to established legal procedures. Rather than answer the author’s pleas to uphold and protect the Constitution, ensure equal protection under the law and adhere to established legal procedures, the author asserts the Coast Guard seemed to want to send a message to this cadet. Why this cadet? We may never know. He was talented, athletic and popular, but it is fairly certain most cadets are talented and athletic, even if not popular. Perhaps, the timing was wrong; perhaps the Coast Guard thought it was time to address the issue of sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy or was it just bad timing for this cadet? That this cadet was the first cadet in Coast Guard history to be court martialed and had a distinguishable ethnicity is germane. Wrong place? Wrong time? You decide.

 

The author gives you a lot to work with. It is readily apparent the esteemed author thoroughly researched this matter and presented exhaustive explanations of law and fact. Transcripts of the legal proceedings are provided in the appendixes. This book is recommended to anyone interested in military legal proceedings or simple justice. The author’s assertion that this case will live in infamy does not seem like an exaggeration. Only time will tell if it is the Coast Guard Academy’s or the defendant’s infamy.

 

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Coast Guard Honors First Black Academy Graduate

United States Coast Guard Academy seal

United States Coast Guard Academy seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW LONDON, Conn. — The Coast Guard Academy in New London honored its first African-American graduate on April 1st with a new award that is named after him.

The Day newspaper of New London reports that CDR Merle James Smith Jr., USCG (Ret.) received the inaugural Merle J. Smith Pioneer Award at the Academy on Sunday, April 1st. The 67-year-old Mystic resident graduated in the Academy Class of 1966 and served 23 years of regular and reserve active duty in the Coast Guard.

CDR Smith was the first Black cadet to be admitted to the United States Coast Guard Academy. The Academy was founded in 1876.

This recognition is well deserved and long overdue. Honoring the first Black graduate honors all Black graduates. The Academy was founded in 1876. The exclusion of African Americans from the Academy from 1876 until 1962 is a tragic fact of American history. The meager resources allotted to Black recruitment is just as tragic.

CDR Smith was the first Black cadet to be admitted to the United States Coast Guard Academy. He was not an Affirmative Action cadet. He was not appointed in direct response to President Kennedy’s directive to find qualified Black high school graduates for the Academy.

The Academy was not aware at first that there was an African American cadet at the Academy. He had not been recruited as a “Black cadet”; nor, was he recognized as one by the Coast Guard Academy Admission’s Office. He was not recognized as an African American because he did not physically resemble one. None of his school records labeled him as Black, and he had not been recruited as a minority candidate. When Black spectators came to watch the entire corps of cadets march in parade, they frequently mistook Anthony Carbone and Donnie Winchester as the possible Black cadet. Carbone was an Italian, and Winchester was a Native American. They both were considerably darker than Merle Smith.

CDR Smith’s appointment had been tendered before President Kennedy issued the directive to find and appoint Black candidates for the Coast Guard Academy. His father, Colonel Merle Smith , Senior, was the Professor of Military Science at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland; and, he had formerly been an Army Staff officer at the Pentagon.

The only two Black cadets to have been recruited under President John F. Kennedy’s Directive were London Steverson and Kenneth Boyd. they both entered the Academy in 1964 and graduated in 1968.

CDR Smith is a 1974 graduate of the National Law Center at George Washington University, Washington, DC. He attended law school while serving in the Coast Guard. He became a Coast Guard Law Specialist.

After graduating, his Coast Guard career took him to Vietnam in 1969, where he commanded a patrol boat for a year. He became the first sea-service African-American to be awarded a Bronze Star. After receiving his law degree from George Washington University in 1974 he became a Coast Guard Law Specialist. Later, he returned to the New London, CT area to work as an attorney for Electric Boat, the Groton-based submarine builder.

It was after retiring from active duty in the Coast Guard, he became an adjunct law professor at the Coast Guard Academy.

In 2006 while teaching law at the Academy CDR Smith was retained as the Individual Military Counsel for Cadet Webster Smith who became the first Coast Guard Academy cadet to be court-martial in the history of the Coast Guard Academy. CDR Smith is no relation to Cadet Webster Smith. Cadet Webster Smith was detailed a Navy Judge Advocate Ggeneral (JAG) officer as his detailed military counsel. The Individual Military counsel is the lead counsel. He is a civilian and he is in charge of the defense team.

CDR Smith received a Pioneer Award. What does that mean? A “Pioneer” is a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.  What was the criteria for selection? Who was on the Selection Committee? Was there anyone else in contention? Will there be subsequent recipients? How many times can one do something for the first time?

The Award could have been called the Trailblazer Award. Trailblazer is a synonym for Pioneer. The term trailblazer signifies those who strike out on a new path or break new ground, either literally or symbolically, using skills of innovation or brave constitutions to conduct their lives off the beaten path. Often known for independent thought, rugged individualism and pioneering ways, trailblazers throughout history have included cutting-edge inventors, explorers and healers. Trailblazers throughout history all have shared an innovative spirit that kept them going when told their endeavors would be fruitless or against impossible odds. All have made their mark on history and mankind by refusing to quit and pushing ahead, most often into uncharted territory. When Merle James Smith entered the Coast Guard Academy in June 1962 he was sailing into uncharted waters. He had no chart, compass or navigator; yet, he reached his destination.

Minority recruitment remains an area that the Academy alleges is the impossible dream. Thirty-three percent of Coast Guard cadets are female; one out of three cadets is a female. The first female classes produced several flag rank officers. We have a plethora of female admirals.

In February, 1976 the Coast Guard Academy announced the appointments of female cadets to enter with the Class of 1980. Fourteen women  graduate as part of the Academy’s Class of 1980.

In 1991 a Women’s Advisory Council was established.

In 2000 the Coast Guard  promoted its first female officer to Rear Admiral. She was Captain Vivien S. Crea. She was not an Academy graduate.

In 2009 CAPT Sandra L. Stosz was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming the first female graduate of the Coast Guard Academy to reach flag rank.

The Coast Guard was the first to select a woman superintendent of a military service academy.  Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, Coast Guard Director of Reserve and Leadership, was selected as Superintendent of the Academy. Rear Admiral Stosz graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1982.

In 2008 the Academy hosted a free, public Women’s Equality Day information fair on August 26 in Munro Hall at the Academy.

Each year since 1971, when President Jimmy Carter designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day, the United States has recognized the struggle for equal rights for women.

The Coast Guard Academy celebrates the event with the theme “Strengthening Our Communities” by hosting various Coast Guard and regional community groups on campus.

“This was billed as a great opportunity for members of our Coast Guard and surrounding New London community to network and learn from the organizations that help support and strengthen Academy leadership,” said LTJG Colleen Jones, Assistant Civil Rights Officer at the Academy and the event organizer.

The various organizations in attendance were the Greater New Haven National Organization of Women, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Connecticut, National Naval Officers Association, Academy Women, Toastmasters, CG Educational Services, CG Child Development Center, and the League of Women Voters.

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Who Played The Race Card in the Webster Smith Case? A 2nd Look at The Case That Will Live In Infamy.

United States Coast Guard Academy - graduation...

Image via Wikipedia

Who Played The Race Card In The Webster Smith Case?

Who played the race card in the Webster Smith case? Was it Commandant of Cadets Doug Wisniewski and CWO2 David French? Or was it Webster Smith’s defense team? Could it have been the news media? Someone certainly did, because the race of the accused was reported before the trial began. Early newspaper reports of the investigation and pending trial carried a picture of the accused. Cadet Webster Smith was shown wearing his formal mess dress uniform. Only the Commandant of Cadets at the Academy had access and authority to release such a personal photo of Cadet Smith. It was a deliberate move to put a face on the alleged crime. The Coast Guard wanted to paint it black. Webster Smith was intended to become the poster child of the sexual predator at the Coast Guard Academy.

Playing the race card in this instance was clearly a racist act. The social and legal meaning of “racism” is in a state of flux. In this post-Civil Rights era, we have no clear and agreed-upon meaning for the term. This has lead to confusion and disagreement. Reasonable people of goodwill may make sincere claims of racist behavior that strike others as wrong and misdirected. The Civil Rights movement succeeded in convincing most Americans that racial bias and prejudice is wrong and fundamentally un-American.

Playing the race card is not new. It is wrong and troubling for several reasons; it is dishonest; and, it typically involves jumping to a conclusion that is not compelled by the facts. The Case of Webster Smith involves objective facts that people can observe and verify.

What the people who singled out Webster Smith for court-martial did not seem to foresee was that playing the race card is dangerous and shortsighted. Also, it is just plain mean-spirited. Racism ruins careers and destroys reputations. Webster Smith’s career as a Coast Guard officer died before it was born. Captain Douglas Wisnewski’s career was side-tracked; and, Admiral Van Sice’s career was not permitted the honorable end that it deserved.

Overuse and abuse of the claim of bias is bad for the Coast Guard and military justice, as well as society at large. Any claim that the race card was played in the Webster Smith Case inevitably provokes defensiveness and resentment from certain quarters. Playing the race card in this case probably lead to a presumption of guilt. Webster Smith was not able to receive a fair trial in that environment. He was constitutionally entitled to a presumption of innocence. Presuming the worst is understandable in a society in which racism persists but is rarely openly expressed. About two generations after the Coast Guard Academy opened its doors to its first Black cadet, racism reared its ugly head in a most daring and pernicious way.

Excerpts from The Day newspaper concerning the court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith said as follows:
Defense lawyers say race is a factor in the case. Smith is black, his accusers are white, and defense attorneys suspect the women conspired to bring false accusations against him.
If race wasn’t a factor when six women accused Smith of sexual misconduct, Merle Smith said, it might have been when a seventh woman came forward and the academy added new charges. Most of the sex-related charges have been dismissed.

“…as this thing has continued to evolve, I guess, as the first 16 charges didn’t appear to be going well, I guess they had to find another eight to see if they could make that case,” Merle Smith said.
Academy officials have said they will not comment on specific allegations before the trial.

The jury of Coast Guard officers included four white men, one white woman, three black men and a man of Asian descent.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen was correct. In his State of the Coast Guard address he said, “We have never been more relevant and we have never been more visible to the Nation we serve”.

We are more visible because we have received more publicity. For some people craving recognition, all publicity is good. It is free advertising. Not for an old and venerated service. For an old public service, bad publicity can be dangerous and disastrous.

There was security in our obscurity. Publicity is a blessing and a curse. You can no longer be hidden and presumed to be ethical, and competent. Now you have to demonstrate that competence, and you have to demonstrate the high moral behavior that you claim to have and want to instill in those coming after you. You cannot just talk that talk; now, you have to walk that walk.

The Smith case is the first court-martial of a cadet in the Academy’s history. The Smith case brought a lot of sudden attention.

The end of Admiral James Van Sice’s military career was more difficult news for the Academy. It has experienced a series of cadet run-ins with the law. The first and most prominent incident happened under Van Sice’s watch. He is the father of the Webster Smith debacle; however, he may not be the author. History will be the final judge, but it appears that the conspiracy was hatched in the Halls of Congress. Most of the evidence that I have been able to uncover and place in context points to former Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays.

The Commandant of the Coast Guard would have gone a long way toward restoring public faith in the Coast Guard and in the Academy, if he had punished Admiral Van Sice more appropriately and if he had been more forthcoming with the details of his misconduct and the type of punishment.

Smith’s attorneys, who raised the possibility that the charges could have been racially motivated, said they were pleased by the jury’s diversity. Smith was Black and all of the accusers were white.

In a January 21, 2006 article in The Day newspaper it was reported that from 1993 until the spring semester of 2005, the Coast Guard Academy had 10 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, according to information provided by the Academy. Of those, six incidents resulted in dismissal of the accused and two ended in resignation. In the remaining two cases, there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges.

One of the other two complaints, stemming from the first semester of 2005-06, resulted in a confession and the Dec. 15 dismissal of a first-year male student, who departed immediately, according to Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) French. He stated that a female cadet reported non-consensual sexual advances from a freshman male in the Chase Hall barracks, the dormitory where all students reside.

No criminal charges were filed, according to CWO French. Notice French said non-consensual sexual advances, when in point of fact it was rape, since the female cadet did not give her consent.

It is safe to assume that none of the male cadets involved were African American, because whenever a Black male is involved the news report very explicitly points out that the male was Black, as was reported in the Webster Smith case. Smith, a linebacker on the academy’s football team, was charged Feb. 9, 2006 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) ,military law ,with rape, assault, indecent assault and sodomy against female cadets.

The Associated Press reported on February 25, 2006 that a cadet was kicked out instead of prosecuted.

A local civilian prosecutor in New London, CT said he was reviewing how information is exchanged with the U.S. Coast Guard Academy after learning a cadet who admitted sexual misconduct wasn’t prosecuted but kicked out of school last year.

New London State’s Attorney Kevin Kane would not say whether he believes he has jurisdiction in the case.

An academy spokesman said he could not comment on the case, citing privacy rules.

“It was fully investigated and handled appropriately,” Chief Warrant Officer David French, the Academy spokesman, said.

According to an Academy discipline summary, the male cadet was expelled in December after admitting to sexual misconduct that was determined to be non-consensual.

So, there were 10 reported cases from 1993 to 2005, and not one resulted in a court-martial. The first report of sexual misconduct involving a Black cadet resulted in a General court-martial. It was not just any court-martial, but the type reserved for murder, treason, and assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

The Coast Guard Academy had 982 students, nearly 30 percent of whom were women. If a report involving sexual assault or misconduct is made to the chain of command the Coast Guard Investigative Service, CGIS, must examine it.

“The commandant of cadets, CAPT Douglas Wisniewski, took immediate action to initiate the investigation into the allegations”, CWO2 David French said. French declined a request for an interview with Commandant of Cadets, Capt. Douglas Wisniewski. The Coast Guard Academy largely limited its responses to brief written statements delivered by e-mail.

Captain Doug Wisniewski, who graduated from the Academy with the last all-male class, was replaced by the first woman to hold the post, Captain Judith Keene, who graduated in the second class to accept women.

“Sexual misconduct at the academy is defined as “acts that disgrace or bring discredit on the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy and are sexual in nature”, including lewd or lascivious acts, indecent exposure or homosexual conduct. But the definition also includes consensual acts that are prohibited on academy grounds, such as holding hands, kissing in public or sex. This does not include rape, because rape is not a consensual act.

If the Academy disposes of 10 cases of sexual misconduct without a court-martial, but on the 11th case of a report of sexual misconduct it convenes a General court-martial, is that playing the race card? What if all 10 of the first cases involved only white cadets, but the 11th case involved a Black cadet? One has to ask why the Black cadet was singled out for a court-martial. Of the three types of courts-martial available, the most extreme was chosen; that is, a General Court-martial. If found guilty, a Summary Court-martial could have awarded 30 days in jail as punishment; a Special Court-martial could have awarded up to six months; but, a General Court-martial could have awarded life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Is it wrong for Black people to ask if there is a double standard? Would that amount to paranoia on the part of Black people? Or would that be considered playing the race card simply to inquire? Is it absurd to believe that anything more than pure chance resulted in the court-martial of Webster Smith? The fact that he was court-martialed speaks to a social reality that African-Americans are acutely aware of in America. Race is not a card to be dealt, but it determines whom the dealer is and who gets dealt a losing hand. In this case Doug Wisniewski dealt the cards, and he dealt from the bottom of the deck

Whites are generally reluctant to acknowledge racism, but they are quick to accuse Black people of playing the race card. The tendency for whites to deny the extent of racism and racial injustice is reflected in the opinions solicited in Norwich on the day that Webster Smith was found guilty and later sentenced to six months in the brig. White comments were generally that this was a reasonable conclusion to the entire sorry affair. An Academy employee said that this is good. It shows that the Academy took timely and effective action. This was evidence of white denial and total indifference to Black persecution.

The Convening Authority for the court-martial was the Superintendent of the Academy, Admiral James Van Sice. Unbelievably, Admiral Van Sice went out of his way to talk to Belinda Smith, Webster Smith’s mother, during the trial. He kept assuring her that everything was going to be alright. On several occasions he told her that as soon as the trial was over, everything was going to be alright. One has to wonder for whom was he speaking. Was Admiral Van Sice in denial or did he think that Belinda and Cadet Webster Smith were expendable?

Perhaps this is why, contrary to popular belief, research indicates that people of color are actually reluctant to allege racism, be it on the job, or in schools, or anywhere else. Far from playing the race card at the drop of a hat, it is actually the case that black and brown folks typically stuff their experiences with discrimination and racism, only making an allegation of such treatment after many, many incidents have transpired, about which they said nothing for fear of being ignored or attacked.

So says Tim Wise, activist, lecturer and director of the new Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE). Tim Wise works from anecdote rather than academic argument to recount his path to greater cultural awareness in a colloquial, matter-of-fact quasi-memoir that urges white people to fight racism ‘for our own sake.’ Wise is the author of two books: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2005), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. In White Like Me, Wise offers a highly personal examination of the ways in which racial privilege shapes the lives of most white Americans, overtly racist or not, to the detriment of people of color, themselves, and society.

Precisely because white denial has long trumped claims of racism, people of color tend to under-report their experiences with racial bias, rather than exaggerate them. When it comes to playing the race card, it is more accurate to say that whites are the dealers with the loaded decks.

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Impersonating Military Officers. What Did You Do In The War Daddy?

The court-martial of former cadet Webster Smith, the first cadet ever tried by court-martial at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy was a tragedy, but it was no accident. It was was more than just a tempest in a teapot. Congressman Christopher Shays, a Republican, held Congressional hearings on how officials were responding to reports of sexual assaults in the service academies. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, inserted a request into a Department of Homeland Security spending bill for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor the Coast Guard Academy’s progress in responding to sexual harassment claims.

The trial of Webster Smith appears to have been the main attraction in a three ring circus. The Coast Guard Academy and Connecticut Congressional Representative Christopher Shays were planning to stag a show-trial for the nation to show how military academies should handle incidents of sexual assaults at the academies. Representative Shays was chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations. He had organized the Washington, DC portion of the circus. He scheduled a panel entitled “Sexual Assualt and Violence Against Women in the Military and at the Academies”. On the day that the star witness for the rape charge, Kristen Nicholson, was testifying at the Coast Guard Academy, a Coast Guard Admiral from the Academy was in Washington,DC at the invitation of Representative Shays to appear before his Committee.

Rear Admiral Paul J. Higgins, Director of Health and Safety, at the Coast Guard Academy was on the witness list along with the Commandants from the other military academies. The publicity from these hearings would have been enough to get Shays reelected. However, the trial did not turn out as expected. The Convening Authority for the Court-martial, the Superintendent at the Coast Guard Academy was Admiral James Van Sice. He was tried at an Admiral’s Mast for inappropriate behavior and forced to retire.Then the furor surrounding this issue of sexual assault at military academies seemed to die down. This issues disappeared from the Washington,D.C. political radar scope. And Christopher Shays, a 10-term incumbent lost his re-election bid in November 2008.

When the full history of the Webster Smith case is written, it may turn out that Congressman Shays was the real author of the first court-martial at the Coast Guard Academy.

The hearings appeared to have been grandstanding on the part of Christopher Shays. For most of his life he appeared to have distanced himself from the military. He certainly wanted no part of duty in the armed forces. When push came to shove he claimed conscientious objector status. He has never worn the uniform of any military service. Shockingly, he is not alone.

A few of the men who once shouted “hell no; We won’t go”, are now claiming that they did. Not only are they claiming that they did go, but also that they distinguished themselves with valor, above and beyond the call of duty. Some were draft protesters, others were draft evaders, and others draft dodgers. They should not all be lumped together.

Draft protesters were often the men who burned their Draft cards in public ceremonies. Draft Dodgers took steps to violate Selective Service laws. Draft evaders were not like draft dodgers.

Some avoided conscription by taking advantage of loopholes in the Selective Service laws, a perfectly legal if not sometimes arbitrary option. In 1966 actor George Hamilton was exempted from the Draft after petitioning his own Draft Board for a deferment base on hardships at home, advising them that his mother needed him to care for her. Of course it didn’t hurt his cause that at the time he was also dating the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson. And perhaps it was just such inequities in the Selective Service program that most angered the young. They were upset not so much being called to serve as they did to the fact that often the rich, the powerful, and the brightest college students escaped being called up.

Some young men sought exemption from the Draft due to special situations: sole surviving son, deferment to complete an education, and even for personal reasons such as religious prohibitions against military service. The latter are called Conscientious Objectors (C.O.) and many of them did serve in non-combat roles, at least two C.O.s earning Medals of Honor, while others belonged to faiths that prohibited even these non-combat roles.

In 2010 according to the New Haven Register, a poll was taken after news broke that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal falsely claimed on several occasions to have served in Vietnam during the war shows his Republican challengers for a U.S. Senate seat closing the gap.

Only about a quarter of voters, however, said he should withdraw from the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.

The Rasmussen telephone poll, showed Blumenthal, the leading Democratic contender, losing most of his lead over Republicans Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons.

A longer version of the video shot in Norwalk on March 2, 2008, was posted on Republican candidate Linda McMahon’s website. It showed Blumenthal correctly describing his military service before saying that he served “in Vietnam.”

“I really want to add my words of thanks,” Blumenthal tells the audience on the video, “as someone who served in the military during the Vietnam era in the Marine Corps.”

Blumenthal served stateside as a Marine reservist after receiving five deferments, reaching the rank of sergeant. On Tuesday, Blumenthal said he “misspoke” at times and regretted the errors.

Democrats in Connecticut and Washington stood by Blumenthal.

“On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. And I take full responsibility,” said Blumenthal. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

The crisis erupted when The New York Times reported that Blumenthal had repeatedly distorted his military service. The story included quotations and a video of Blumenthal saying at a 2008 event that he had “served in Vietnam.” The newspaper also said Blumenthal intimated more than once that he was a victim of the abuse heaped on Vietnam veterans upon their return home.

At a veterans event in Shelton, Conn., for example, he said, “When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered,” according to a 2008 Connecticut Post story.

Blumenthal, 64, joined the Marine Reserve in 1970 and served six years, none of it overseas. He put in much of his time in Washington, where he took part in such projects as fixing a campground and working on a Toys for Tots drive, according to the Times.

He received at least five military deferments that enabled him to stay out of the war between 1965 and 1970, during which time he went to Harvard, studied in England and landed a job in the Nixon White House. Once he secured a spot in the Marine Reserve, he had almost no chance of being sent to Vietnam, the newspaper reported.

Former Representative Christopher Shays and Beth Davis, former Air Force Academy Cadet.

He is a close friend of Congressman Christopher Shays, whose early political career was marked by acts of defiance. He registered for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War and acknowledges he would not have served if drafted. He said that he is a good friend of Richard Blumenthal’s and that he had watched with worry as Mr. Blumenthal gradually embellished his military record over the years. Over the last few years, however, more sweeping claims crept into Mr. Blumenthal’s descriptions, he said: for example, that Mr. Blumenthal had served in Vietnam, and had felt the sting of an ungrateful nation as he returned.

“He just kept adding to the story, the more he told it,” Mr. Shays said.

Michael Ray Jacobs, 52, is accused in federal court of wearing a naval officer’s uniform on at least four occasions in March 2010. He has been charged with impersonating a Navy officer, complete with medals he never earned. Court records in the case say that he was seen in the uniform at the Oceana Naval Air Station stables, the Oceana exchange, a Navy dental clinic in Norfolk and a recruiting office. He is also charged with stealing a uniform from the Oceana exchange.

Navy officials said Jacobs never served in the Navy.

The U.S. attorney’s office is prosecuting the case.

Impersonating a member of the armed forces has been a hot-button topic among veterans groups and in Congress, where a law was passed in 2006 making it a crime to falsely claim to have been awarded medals and decorations for military service.

Jeremy Michael Boorda (November 26, 1939 – May 16, 1996) was an admiral of the United States Navy and the 25th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Boorda is the only CNO to have risen to the position from the enlisted ranks. He was the first CNO who was not a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Boorda died May 16, 1996 a suicide, having apparently shot himself in the chest in his office while reporters from Newsweek magazine were waiting to interview him concerning his medals and awards. He reportedly left two suicide notes. He was reported to have been disturbed over a news media investigation, led by David Hackworth of Newsweek, into Valor device enhancements he wore on his Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal (small bronze “V” devices, signifying valor in combat), which the media report claimed he was not entitled to wear. He was said to be worried this issue would cause more trouble for the Navy’s reputation.

A new Superior Court Judge in Norwark, CA. claimed to be a Viet Nam vet. He was not. A history professor at West Point claimed to be a Viet Nam combat vet. He was not. A Connecticut State Congressman claimed to be a Viet Nam vet. He was not. Why are all these draft dodgers and conscientious objectors claiming to be military veterans??

A panel of special masters from the California Commission on Judicial Performance(CJP) found May 15, 2001 that Judge Patrick Couwenberg misrepresented his educational and military backgrounds to various sources, including the governor who appointed him.

CJP lawyer Jack Coyle argued that Couwenberg should be removed from the bench because his lies about his military service and his educational and professional experience were a factor in his appointment to the bench.

Couwenberg’s lawyers said the judge deserved an opportunity to remain in office. They argued that his statements were not malicious, but were the product of a psychological impairment, and pointed to praise the jurist has received for his work from both prosecutors and defense attorneys who have appeared before him.

Couwenberg is continuing to hear criminal cases in Norwalk, California.

The judge has admitted that he falsely claimed to hold a master’s degree in psychology and made false claims of military experience, including an award of a Purple Heart, in Vietnam.

The special masters found that he also lied to the commission itself, in sworn testimony, by claiming to have participated in covert operations with the CIA in Southeast Asia in 1967 and 1968. Couwenberg testified that those claims are true, although he no longer maintains he was with the CIA and says he doesn’t know what agency he was looking for.

A CIA official testified that Couwenberg wasn’t working for that agency and that it’s highly unlikely that any other agency would have recruited Couwenberg for operations in Laos because no such missions were authorized.

Couwenberg claimed that some of his misstatements were intended to be humorous. Other statements, he claimed, were typed onto official forms by his wife, based on statements he had made to her 20 years earlier, a claim the masters found lacking in credibility.

A psychiatrist testified that the judge suffers from “pseudologica fantastica,” a symptom of low self-esteem rooted in the judge’s early childhood in what is now Indonesia followed by difficult relocations, first to Holland and then to the United States.

The doctor said that the condition causes Couwenberg to mix fact and fantasy, but that it is treatable with therapy and doesn’t render him unfit for judicial service.

The masters, however, largely agreed with a psychiatrist called by commission lawyers at the masters’ hearing. Psychological testing data, Dr. James Rosenberg said, doesn’t show that the judge’s “repetitive lying” as an adult is due to childhood trauma, nor that he suffers from any recognized mental illness.

The CJP’s removal order, issued Aug. 15 and effective Sept. 14, 2001 followed revelations that Couwenberg had, among several other things, lied about being a Vietnam veteran, receiving a Purple Heart, serving in covert operations for the CIA and earning a master’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles.

Couwenberg’s lawyers and doctors said the 1976 graduate of the University of La Verne College of Law in Ontario suffers from a pathological lying condition called pseudologia fantastica, which they tied to his childhood in an Indonesian concentration camp at the end of World War II.

Joseph John Ellis (born 18 July 1943 in Washington, D.C.) was a Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College and also at the U.S.Military Academy at West Point until 1972.

Ellis became the subject of embarrassing controversy when the Boston Globe published an article on June 18, 2001, revealing that Ellis lied about fighting in the Vietnam War (he served in uniform in America but did not go to Vietnam as he had claimed to his students and to the media).He claimed to have been a platoon leader and paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. He said he served in Saigon under Gen. William Westmoreland. Ellis did not serve in Vietnam at all, according to military records obtained by the Globe Newspaper and interviews with his friends from the 1960s. He spent his three years in the Army teaching history at the US Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Ellis also appears to have exaggerated the extent of the involvement he claims to have had in both the antiwar and civil rights movements.

Ellis also falsely claimed to have scored a winning touchdown in a decisive game while playing for his high school football team. In fact, Ellis never played for his high school team.

On June 21, 2001 Professor Ellis issued a statement saying: “Even in the best lives, mistakes are made. I deeply regret having let stand and later confirming the assumption that I went to Vietnam. For this and any other distortions about my personal life, I want to apologize to my family, friends, colleagues and students.”

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cadet Used Honor Code Position To Obtain Sexual Favors.

Cadet Used Honor Code Position To Obtain Sexual Favors.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He’s also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a “cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases” to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. He may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy’s Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position. He was expected to punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shock-waves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy’s culture.

Who will watch the watchers? This exploitation of a power position was inevitable. It is as impossible to avoid detection indefinitely as it is to plans your own surprise birthday. This is probably not the first time this cadet has done this. It appears that he had momentum; that is, forward motion fueled by a series of wins.

Just what is the Honor Code. each of our military academies has an Honor Code or an Honor Concept. How do they differ? Read all about it in my book CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady. Read it for free in Kindle format at

https://www.amazon.com/author/cgachall.blogspot.com

The Coast Guard Academy Cadet Handbook (2010) tells the new cadet recruit that when you take the oath of office as a Cadet in the United States Coast Guard you begin your development as a commissioned officer in the Armed Forces of the United States. You will be expected to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and to selflessly serve the American people.

In the Honor Concept there exists a higher standard of conduct that can neither be delineated by laws nor defined by regulations. It is the concept of Honor. Because Coast Guard cadets are called to a life of public service, and desire to attain that special trust and confidence which is placed in our nation’s commissioned officers, their actions must be straightforward and always above reproach. As future law enforcement officers, each cadet’s word and signature must be regarded as verification of the truth. The Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept is exemplified by a person who will neither lie, cheat, steal, nor attempt to deceive. It is epitomized by an individual who places loyalty to duty above loyalty to personal friendship or to selfish desire. While the Coast Guard Academy’s Honor Concept differs from a code, in that failure to report an honor offense is not itself an honor violation, cadets are required to report all activity that does not incriminate themselves. Moreover, the condoning of an honor violation is a Class I offense under the Cadet Regulations. Dis-enrollment is a very possible outcome. The Corps of Cadets are stewards of their Honor Concept.

At the center of their new world is adherence to a Concept or Cadet Honor Code to which they swear: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” Their whole new world is shaped around these principles. This initially shapeless reality begins to form into principles of rigid honesty, loyalty to their fellow cadets, and respect for their classmates and all with whom they associate.

What is conduct unbecoming an officer and a lady? Does it violate the Honor Concept? Does conduct that violates the UCMJ constitute a higher standard than the Honor Concept? Times are changing so rapidly, one wonders if cadets and officers of today can be held to the same standards of conduct that were intended by the drafters of the UCMJ and the MCM promulgated in 1951? Not everyone can be expected to meet ideal moral standards, but how far can the standards of behavior of cadets and officers fall below contemporary community standards without seriously compromising their standing as officers and ladies? Have the changes in ethics and values of American society been reflected in the military?

Both the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy have adopted a Cadet Honor Code as a formalized statement of the minimum standard of ethics expected of cadets. Other military schools have similar codes with their own methods of administration. The United States Naval Academy, like the Coast Guard Academy, has a related standard, known as the Honor Concept.

The Cadet Honor Code at the Air Force Academy, like that at West Point, is the cornerstone of a cadet’s professional training and development — the minimum standard of ethical conduct that cadets expect of themselves and their fellow cadets. Air Force’s honor code was developed and adopted by the Class of 1959, the first class to graduate from the Academy, and has been handed down to every subsequent class. The code adopted was based largely on West Point’s Honor Code, but was modified slightly to its current wording:

We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

In 1984, the Cadet Wing voted to add an “Honor Oath,” which was to be taken by all cadets. The oath is administered to fourth class cadets (freshmen) when they are formally accepted into the Wing at the conclusion of Basic Cadet Training. The oath remains unchanged since its adoption in 1984, and consists of a statement of the code, followed by a resolution to live honorably:

We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.

Cadets are considered the “guardians and stewards” of the Code. Cadet honor representatives throughout the Wing oversee the honor system by conducting education classes and investigating possible honor incidents. Cadets throughout the Wing are expected to sit on Honor Boards as juries that determine whether their fellow cadets violated the code. Cadets also recommend sanctions for violations. Although the presumed sanction for a violation is di-senrollment, mitigating factors may result in the violator being placed in a probationary status for some period of time. This “honor probation” is usually only reserved for cadets in their first two years at the Academy. (Cadet Honor Code, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

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Coast Guard Academy to Receive NAACP Award.

United States Coast Guard Academy seal

Image via Wikipedia

The Coast Guard Academy (CGA) will receive the Community Service Education Award from the Norwich branch of the NAACP at its 48th Annual Freedom Fund Dinner on Friday 7 October 2011.

The theme for this year’s dinner is “Affirming America’s Promise”.

The Academy will be recognized for contributions to the New London, Connecticut  community. According to Judge London Steverson, a 1968 graduate of the Academy and a Silver Life member of the NAACP, the Academy has a Partners in Education Program, known as PIE, which takes computer technology equipment used at the Coast Guard Academy, recycles and rebuilds it, then distributes it to local schools. Cadets also go to the schools and assist children and staff with their new computer equipment.

(www.judgelondonsteverson.com)

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CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady

United States Coast Guard Academy - graduation...

Image via Wikipedia

If the USA is one big book club then the American Corner and the Steverson Collection Book Club must have been hoping that this would be the week that everyone was talking about “CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady”, Judge London Steverson’s most recent revelation concerning the trial and conviction of the first Coast Guard Academy cadet in the history of this small military academy in New London, CT..(www.judgelondonsteverson.com)

This case really made news and generated a lot of changes in the way sexual assaults are reported and investigated in the military academies. Read in full, this book is a new American Tragedy.  It has the virtues and limitations of Theodore Dreiser’s original American Tragedy: contemporary, still unfolding history, shadows of power, teenage binge drinking, inter-racial sexual encounters of the worst kind, and immorality at the highest levels of the military. That means an all knowing, seemingly eyewitness, mind-reading author; an unbelievable dialogue of incrimination and recrimination, back and forth he-said, she-said. One is left with the unmistakable feeling that someone must be telling the truth, but who?

If the male cadet-accused is, then the female cadet-accuser is a woman of easy virtue times two. Also, she would have to be a pathological liar.

If the female cadet-accuser is telling the truth, then the accused male cadet is a Jim Dandy, smooth, athletic, lady’s man, who finally gets hoisted on his own petard.

This book is non-fiction, and it is based on a true story. It is an analysis of the latest bomb to come out of the annals of inter-class, inter-racial, misconduct at the Coast Guard Academy.

Analysis, background, and exposition necessarily take a back seat to exaggeration. There is no need to inflate the facts; this truth is more fascinating than fiction.

After showing that the accused is not the sexual predator that he was alleged to have been by senior officials, the book demonstrates how the justice system was used to pervert justice in a case of few complicated facts. This case actually went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to exposing the trial for what it was; that is to say, a kangaroo court; the author actually paints a detailed and accurate description of the real Coast Guard Academy sexual predator.

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